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Pitchero Club

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Club History

The Club was formally constituted as the Old Dunstonian Football Club at a meeting on 20 July 1903, some six years after the formation of the Old Boys Club (later the Old Dunstonian Association), with 25 members and affiliated to the Rugby and Kent County Unions. It ran two sides each week and for a new club, it had a commendably strong fixture list. Some 20 matches were played against opponents which included Park House "A', OMTs "A', Blackheath 2nds, Old Alleynians "A', Old Paulines "A' and the full Old Whitgiftians 1st XV. Its first playing season - 1903/04 - opened on 26 September with a match v Beckenham "A'. The present ODRFC name was in common usage by the last season before WW1 - no doubt to ensure a proper differentiation between "Rugby' and "Association'!

The formation of the Club was the culmination of a process begun as early as 1891. Only three years after the College opened, there were already enough ODs to turn out a side and two matches were played that year against the school - 3rd October (the first ever OD rugby fixture) and 12 December. Two similar matches were played in the following season.

1897 saw an OD XV meeting opponents other than the school for the first time, the opponents being the long since defunct Norwood Club. These occasional games were played in dark blue jerseys with an oval ODFC monogram.

Difficulties in keeping talented players were apparent even then. There were several strong local sides - Catford Bridge, Wickham Park and Court Hill among them - which had ODs playing for them. In 1897/98 three ODs were in the Catford Bridge XV while five others were regulars for Wickham Park.

Among notable OD rugby men at this time was our first international, I G Davidson - Ireland (1899, 1900, 1901) and one H E B Wilkins, Captain of Kent (1898) and later International Referee, President of the Kent County RFU and the London Rugby Union, and a member of the Rugby Union committee.

They and others had joined other clubs before the formation of the ODFC and were subsequently reluctant to transfer their allegiance in mid-career. Indeed, the Catford Bridge side that won the Kent Cup in 1905, the first year in which the ODFC competed, had no fewer than five ODs in its ranks!

The Club's first home was in Whitefoot Lane, Southend Lane off the Bromley Road, part of a farm acquired through the generosity of by one H Covell who owned the land and whose sons were ODs. 1907/08 saw a move to the former City of London School ground just outside Beckenham Hill Station and a further move came in 1910 to an adjacent ground at a lower rent to keep expenses down.

WWI took its toll on the Club with no less than 37 members lost. 1919 saw the Club's re-establishment and yet another change of ground - to land at the back of the "Tigers Head", Southend Lane on the basis that, should it be needed for building development, no rent would be due! By 1921/22, 1st XV matches were being played on the Catford Wanderers Cricket Club ground nearby, the Tigers Head land being retained for junior teams.

All was not well, however. Claims from allotment holders for vegetables damaged by balls kicked too far out of touch were manageable but the cricketers, unconvinced of an arrangement whereby they were obliged to play on a square cut from the rugby field, were another matter and the Club was given (very short) notice to quit!
The answer came with the purchase of Beckenham Hill which remained the home of the Club from 1922 until the move to our present ground at Park Langley in 1959.

In 1976/77 the Club 1st XV produced a string of fine performances in the Kent Cup that took them all the way to the Final where, in a pulsating match, they were beaten 10-3 by Blackheath.

With the advent of leagues in 1987/88, the Club was placed in London Division 3 South East but in the 1988/89 season proved the point that while still playing good rugby, it is easier to leave a league by relegation than it is by promotion. The Club retained its position in Kent Division 1 until winning promotion to the newly formed London Division 4 South East in 1999/00. A similarly successful season followed in 2000/01 when the Club was promoted into London Division 3 South East.

In 2002/03 the Club celebrated its centenary.

In season 2003/04, the 1st XV enjoyed a good run in the Powergen Junior Vase competition when the team progressed to the semi-final stage, losing to the eventual winners and continued to play a consistently high standard of rugby culminating in an outstanding season in 2004/05, the most successful season in the Club's history in percentage terms, when promotion to London 3SE, as L4SE Champions, was secured. In 2008/09 following reorganisation of the national leagues the Club moved to the newly created London 2SE division. Following demotion at the end of the 2012-13 season the Club has played in London 3SE.

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